Mukuru, a settlement east of Nairobi (photo: CURE/Sauder School of Business)

Global Virtual Classroom on Urban Resilience

COMM 486X | 3 Credits

About the Global Virtual Classroom

This is a collaborative learning platform offered through UBC Go Global that focuses on an issue of global relevance, co-created and co-delivered by faculty from UBC Sauder School of Business and partner universities around the world, that involves collaborative learning by students from multiple disciplines while working in global virtual teams. Please apply by Monday May 3, 2021.

About the course 

This course is led by  Dr. Murali Chandrashekaran, Fred H. Siller Professor of Behavioural Science; UBC Vice-Provost, International

Class times and location: T/Th, 5:00pm to 6:30pm PDT – Online (Zoom)

Course duration: May 18-August 19, 2021

COMM 486X is a Global Virtual Classroom focused on UN SDG11 (cities and urban resilience) offered by Sauder's Collaborative for Urban Resilience & Effectiveness (CURE) in partnership with Osaka University's Center for Co-Design.  It is an advanced applied course  in which students will work in cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional teams. Course content will be brought to life through global virtual team work, engaging mini lectures, live cases, field study, relevant readings, and discussions to explore two urban resilience challenges faced by an informal settlement (Mukuru) in Nairobi (Kenya).

It brings together faculty from the University of British Columbia, Osaka University, and community leaders from Slum & Shack Dwellers International (SDI), and Akiba Machinani Trust (AMT) to engage with the topic of urban resilience - one on Affordable Housing and another on Clean Energy Cooking Solutions.

Theme: Locally-led Globally-served Urban Resilience

Though history reveals that urbanization has always been an accelerator of growth and development, it also poses profound challenges for businesses, communities, cities, and countries.  A recent McKinsey report succinctly notes: “Cities are essential to global economic growth and productivity…. Making cities great is the critical infrastructure challenge of this century.”

COVID-19 is offering the world a particularly stark reminder that a focus on long-term resilience is crucial for citizens, communities, corporations, cities and countries.   As we emerge from the long shadow of this crisis, it is increasingly apparent that resilience, reinvention and the bridging of urban divides require greater multilateralism, inclusion and collaboration from which globally-informed and locally-relevant solutions may surface. The need for inclusive approaches is perhaps the greatest for informal settlements and slums that house the world’s most vulnerable people. Though  informal settlements evidence an amazing capacity to self-organize and fashion innovative low-cost solutions, COVID-19 has vividly surfaced the need to mobilize innovative models of global partnerships, and develop holistic strategies to  find solutions to the very challenges that underpin the vulnerability of informal settlements. 

urban resilience poster

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Analyze resilience challenges and opportunities facing global cities, and evaluate how local and regional context shapes these resilience challenges and opportunities
  • Describe the holistic and integrated nature of resilience and its key drivers
  • Critique the foundational role of management in the creation and implementation of resilience strategies, with special attention to resiilience challenges faced by informal settlements in Nairobi
  • Evaluate the opportunities and challenges of working in remote and borderless teams
  • Summarize the benefits and challenges of working with students from different disciplinary backgrounds

Course schedule

The course will run for 15 weeks, and will unfold in four stages.

Stage 1: 4 weeks of concepts - May 18 to June 3
  • Each session will be 90 minutes long, and will be facilitated by mini-lectures from subject matter experts, conversations with practitioners, discussion forums triggered by cases from target cities and other leading performance examples in the resilience area.
  • Synchronous sessions for the entire class will be held every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:00pm-6:30pm (PDT)
Stage 2: 4 weeks of project development and research -  June 8 to July 1
  • Preparation for fieldwork
  • Orientation to the city and the relevant communities for project work
  • Intercultural and ethical community engagement sessions
  • Designing holistic research questions
  • Preparation of project briefing
Stage 3: 4 weeks data analysis and hypotheses refinement - July 6 to July 30
  • Meetings with decision-makers and community members in Mukuru to further refine the hypotheses, and articulate research questions and potential solution trajectories for each of the resilience challenges
Stage 4: 3 weeks of Integration and final presentations – August 3 to August 19
  • Generation of actions and next steps
  • Final presentations

Eligibility requirements

Course specific eligibility requirements

  • Senior undergraduate students (3rd or 4th year level) and graduate students are eligible.
  • Open to students from all disciplines, including but not limited to: business, engineering, environmental studies, urban design and architecture, land and food systems, public policy.

Go Global general eligibility requirements

In addition to meeting course eligibility criteria, applicants should 

  • Have at least a 70% average in the most recent Winter Session of full-time studies prior to application,
  • Be a UBC student in good standing (e.g. not be under academic or non-academic discipline), and
  • Have full-time student status (as defined by the faculty)

Application deadline

Application deadline May 3, 2021

How to apply

  1. Log in to the Gateway online application program
  2. Select “Search Experiences” and type "COMM 486" to locate this course 
  3. Complete the application form and click submit

Program fees and costs

Students are responsible for paying UBC tuition per credit. 

Students will be charged the $415 Go Global fee and will receive a $500 Go Global Award.

Refund policy

The Go Global Fee ($415.00 CDN) is an administrative fee required for all applicants to Go Global programs. The fee is non-refundable. However, it may be adjusted under the following circumstances.

If you withdraw from Go Global

To withdraw from your program, you must contact Go Global by email to request withdrawal.

Students who withdraw from the program after the program starts, will have their Go Global fee adjusted from $415.00 to $321.75 (reduced by $93.25).

In the case of withdrawal, Go Global Award funding must be returned in full.

If you have questions, please connect with your Go Global advisor or email Go Global at


If you are considering applying for a Go Global program and identify with having a disability or pre-existing health condition (mental or physical) which could impact your participation, or if you require academic accommodations, you can contact the following offices and meet with an Accessibility Advisor before the start of the program:


Go Global Vancouver

Go Global's campus office is closed until further notice. At this time, you can contact Go Global by email, phone or virtually through Zoom.

If you need to book an advising appointment, please complete the online request form. Appointments will be held through Zoom or by phone.

Advising hours

Monday: 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Tuesday: 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Thursday: 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm